Spatial dynamics of a zoonotic orthohantavirus disease through heterogenous data on rodents, rodent infections, and human disease.
Zoonotic diseases are challenging to study from the ecological point of view as, broadly speaking, datasets tend to be either detailed on a small spatial extent, or coarse on a large spatial extent. Also, there are many ways to assess zoonotic disease transmission systems, from pathogens to hosts to humans. We explore the complementarity of datasets considering the pathogen in its host, the host and human cases in the context of Puumala orthohantavirus infection in Germany. We selected relevant environmental predictors using a conceptual framework based on resource-based habitats. This framework assesses the functions, and associated environmental resources of the pathogen and associated host. A resource-based habitat framework supports variable selection and result interpretation. Multiplying 'keyholes' to view a zoonotic disease transmission system is valuable, but requires a strong conceptual framework to select and interpret environmental explanatory variables. This study highlights the usefulness of a structured, ecology-based approach to study drivers of zoonotic diseases at the level of virus, host, and human - not only for PUUV but also for other zoonotic pathogens. Our results show that human disease cases are best explained by a combination of variables related to zoonotic pathogen circulation and human exposure.